Negroni Week: Why Is The Classic Cocktail So Loved

Cocktails can feel like an intimidating world to enter. With fancy names, obscure ingredients and price tags that belie their sophistication, it can sometimes make them seem inaccessible to the regular Joe at his barstool. But slowly that mirage has been dissipating, allowing cocktails to become a regular part of menus around the world. Though there are many options to choose from, there are a few that lead the pack, and at the head of that pack is the Negroni

This classic cocktail also plays the part of an aperitif, which stimulates your appetite before a meal. Made with gin, sweet vermouth, Campari bitters and a slice of orange this drink is traditionally stirred, not shaken and built up over ice cubes, and the good news is, it's simple enough that you can make it yourself.

Hailing from Italy and slowly making its way around the world, the Negroni is today one of the most celebrated cocktails but it took its time getting to this level.  It began in Florence in 1919, when an Italian noble, Count Camillo Negroni stopped at the watering hole Cafe Casoni for a pick-me-up. He had just returned from America and requested that the bartender, Fosco Scarselli make him an Americano (not the coffee, but a cocktail of vermouth, Campari and soda). Count Negroni had his own preferences and requested that the soda be swapped out for gin. Scarselli obliges but swaps the traditional lemon wedge for a slice of orange to signify that it was something new and suddenly they had a hit on their hands. 

The allure of the Negroni wasn’t always evident to people, however, since it’s a fairly straight-up drink with little by way of embellishment. It lets the alcohol hold pride of place and many casual cocktail drinkers prefer drinks with more additions. This drove a wedge between Negroni drinkers and the rest of the world, and in the early 2010s, Negronis was only ordered by those who considered themselves the cocktail elite. 

In 2013 however, that was all about to change when Imbibe Magazine launched its initiative – Negroni Week – as a way to celebrate one of the world’s classic cocktails while also raising money for charitable causes worldwide. When it began it was in partnership with just over 120 participating restaurants but today thousands of places choose to honour the week between the 12th and 18th of September as the official Negroni Week.

Though the classic only had 4 basic ingredients, people have taken liberties with the ratios and flavour combinations. Sometimes the orange slice is swapped for grapefruit in a mild twist, or some people go bold by completely changing up the flavours with additions like watermelon and mint. Now although we can’t say for sure, we’d like to believe that Count Camillo Negroni and Fosco Scarselli would look upon the legacy of innovation and creativity their cocktail has inspired and be proud.